Los Chicos Altos’ new El Diablo Alegre EP, out on UrbanWorld Records, delivers the results of some impressively diverse musical cross-pollination. That shouldn’t be such a surprise for electro-tropical music: just look at Manduka, a Chilean DJ making cumbia-dub in Paris or G-Flux, who started producing his own “space cumbia” after moving from Mexico to DC. Los Chicos Altos have their own backstory– the duo was formed in Barcelona by T-Bird, a former deep house producer from LA, and Maxey Blaze, who used to be a drum ‘n bass DJ in Munich. Now they specialize in a fusion between the beats of electronic music and the traditional rhythms of South America, such as cumbia and chandé, an Afro-indigenous genre from Colombia. The duo are joined on the EP by their frequent collaborators, Palo Q’Sea, a group of fellow transplants to Barcelona. Palo Q’Sea are an Afro-Colombian street theater company, originally formed in Pereira, Colombia in 1986. Their performances feature giant puppets, stilt walkers, fireworks, dancing and the music and folklore they brought with them from Colombia.
The EP begins with a song called “Chande,” remixed by American producers K. Sabroso and Axel Cloud. “Chande” starts off with Palo Q’Sea’s chanting and the chandé drum beat. The song retains that traditional foundation, though its producers thoroughly transplant it into the electronic age.
The rest of the album contains three separate versions of its title track, both the original version and remixes by Omegaman and Mr R. The song’s funky bassline and devil-tropical vocals make it worthy of repetition. Mr R AKA Ramon Perez brings yet another perspective to the project as co-founder of Novalima, the venerable electro-Afro-Peruvian ensemble.
So get on your stilts, turn up these Afro-electro-Colombian tunes, and dance along with El Diablo!